Guyer’s Brynn Brown was a heavy favorite entering the Class 6A 3,200-meter run at the UIL state track field and meet. But she was not the favorite in the mile, and that’s what made the sophomore’s second race of the day so special.
After winning the 3,200 in dominant fashion and breaking the state record with a time of 10:09.91 in the morning, Brown returned to the track at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the Texas campus in Austin on Saturday night with her mind set on avenging last year’s second-place finish in the mile.
Brown was seeded fourth in a tight field of runners that included Audrey O’Connell (Prosper), Emily Cole (Klein), Natalie Cook (Flower Mound) and Heidi Nielson (Katy Cinco Ranch). Brown planned the race to her strengths and finished first in 4:48.37 to claim her second gold medal of the day.
“It was super special,” Brown said. “The mile was the event I was really looking forward to because I had that monkey on my back. I was so excited. My goal for the season was to win both, so for it to finally happen it was kind of surreal.”
Brown was second in the mile behind Cook at the district, area and regional meets but never wavered in the diligent preparation that has helped solidify her as one of the nation’s top distance runners. Brown changed her approach and took off at a fast pace alongside Nielson before pulling ahead in the final 80 meters.
Guyer coach Jonathan Ponsonby called Brown’s effort in the mile the best performance he’s seen in his 20-year career as a coach.
“It was just validation for her,” Ponsonby said. “In track last year, she only competed in one event and finished with a silver medal. In cross country, she finished with a silver medal. She kept finishing as the second-best, but she would not settle for that. Brynn is very comfortable with being uncomfortable, and she took it right at them. She did exactly what we talked about.”
Before winning the mile, Brown led the pack from start to finish in the 3,200 and crossed the finish line in 10:09.91 to break the state meet record for all classifications set by McKinney North’s London Culbreath (10:13.68) in 2017.
“I definitely had the record on my mind going into the race, and I knew the pace I needed to hit,” Brown said. “I was pretty confident that I could hit it because I had a good two weeks of training after running the 10:19. I was just super excited because the state record has been a goal of mine all year. Seeing all the hard work I put into that pay off was really exciting.”
The performances from Brown were not at all surprising to Guyer coach Megan Hardesty, who said the sophomore’s enthusiastic fist pump as she crossed the finish line in the 3,200 perfectly captured the emotions of Brown’s supporters who made the trip to Austin.
Denton Guyer sophomore Brynn Brown breaks UIL state-meet record for all classifications in 3,200 by running 10:09.91 to win 6A girls state title. She broke record of 10:13.68 by McKinney North’s London Culbreath in 2017. @SportsDayHS @DRC_HSsports @dentonisd @TXMileSplit @TTFCA pic.twitter.com/oZEjPkbEDG— Greg Riddle (@DMNGregRiddle) May 11, 2019
“It was a pretty neat moment for her and all of us involved,” Hardesty said. “That girl can do anything. It’s hard to be surprised by all of the incredible things she does at this point. She works hard and does all of the little things, so she deserves it, that’s for sure.”
Guyer also walked away with a gold medal on the boy side, as sophomore Eli Stowers finished first in the high jump to secure his own state championship. Stowers was one of four athletes to qualify for state with a jump of at least 6 feet, 10 inches, but he was the only competitor to reach that mark in Austin.
Stowers, who is 247Sports’ No. 5 dual-threat quarterback in the nation in the class of 2021, cleared 6-7 on his second attempt and was locked into first place when The Woodlands’ Carter Bajoit failed to clear the height on his third attempt.
With the state championship in hand, Stowers went on to clear 6-10 on his third jump.
“It’s a great feeling,” Stowers said. “I have to thank God for everything he’s done for me. I was really proud of what I did — getting 6-10 in cold weather with a little bit of a sprinkle and a wet apron. It was a little overwhelming. This is the first time I’ve been down here, so to win it is pretty crazy.”
Guyer boys coach JD Aaron said Stowers’ experience competing in similar poor conditions throughout the season paid off, as the early-morning start, cold weather and light rain appeared to impact several competitors.
But Stowers never faltered and became the second Guyer boy to win a state title, joining Ethan Toy, who won the 6A long jump in 2016. After the event, Aaron praised Guyer assistant Aaron Roberts, who coached Stowers in the high jump this season and Toy in the long jump in 2016.
“Eli has jumped in conditions like this quite a bit this season,” Aaron said. “This didn’t faze him. He’s not a kid that gets rattled — he stays focused on what he needs to do and gets it done.”
In other Denton-area action at the state meet, Sanger’s Hank Lemons finished fourth in the Class 4A boys long jump with a jump of 21-11 1/4. Argyle’s Caleb Murdock placed third in the 4A boys pole vault after clearing 15-0 on his second attempt.
Sanger’s Rylan Smart was fourth in the 4A boys discus with a throw of 155-11, and Sanger’s Payten Vidourek ran a 2:00.31 to finish fourth in the boys 800. Argyle’s Alexandra Johnson was fourth in her event, clocking a 2:20.28 in the 4A girls 800.
Guyer’s Christalee Kirby added to the strong day for the Lady Wildcats by placing fifth in the discus with a throw of 138-1. As a team, the Guyer girls were fifth with 22 points prior to the mile relay.
The Argyle mile relay team — Adam Schleder, Brendan Simonin, Ward McCollum and Connor Kilgore — finished seventh in 3:24.97.